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What to do if accused of drinking and driving

Drinking and driving is dangerous, hurts and kills people, and is 100 percent avoidable. If someone is found guilty, there are consequences such as jail time, prison time, license suspensions, loss of jobs, and more. However, many people are arrested for DUI who are not guilty. Whether guilty or not, the below will halt further consequences.

1. When a driver is stopped by law enforcement and investigated for DUI, history shows he will perform field sobriety tests. This is the worst decision a driver can make besides drinking and driving in the first place.

As I have mentioned many times, these tests are voluntary. They should always be politely refused. Many people feel they do not have a choice. But, any roadside test, including the small breath device (alcosensor) should never be taken. These tests are not meant to help the driver. They are tools to assist the prosecution.

2. At the time of arrest, the officer must read the implied consent warnings to the driver. Basically, the officer tells the driver that the officer would like to take a sample of the driver’s blood, breath, or urine. Do not confuse this with the small portable alcosensor which is considered a “field sobriety test.” Today, officers almost always ask for a blood test. If the driver refuses to provide one after warnings, he will likely receive a 1205 form. Prior to July 1, 2017, if a driver received a 1205 form based on refusing to provide a sample and registered a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or over, he had 10 business days to appeal. If the appeal was submitted in a timely manner, the driver would receive notice for his Administrative License Suspension (ALS) court date. If the driver did not appeal, he would lose his license for 12 months.

Now, Georgia operates under a new system with two choices. The law requires lawyer and driver to make early decisions. Obtaining the dash cam video quickly is critical.

Choice one – this is the best choice and must be done within 30 days of arrest. Instead of appealing, the driver can apply for an Ignition Interlock Limited Permit (IILP) at their local Department of Drivers Services (DDS) to get a limited permit. The driver must pay a $25 permit fee, apply within 30 days of the arrest, surrender his or her license; and execute an affidavit waiving the ALS hearing. The permit must be installed on the vehicle. Like other limited permits, there are conditions. These include, but are not limited to, driving to and from work, driving for medical care, school, treatment, court, community service and other court related activity. Some drivers, like people under 21, CDL licensees, drivers who were convicted of one or more DUIs within the past five years, and drivers with out of state licenses, are not eligible for an IIDLP. They are stuck with choice two.

Choice two – the driver can appeal. The 2017 law extends the time to appeal from 10 business days to 30 business days. The cost of the appeal is $150, made in writing, usually written by the lawyer, and should be sent by certified mail. If an appeal is not filed, the license is suspended for 12 months with no limited driving permit. If an appeal is filed, the case goes before an appointed ALS judge for a hearing to determine things such as whether the stop was legal, were implied consent warnings read properly, and were there 4th Amendment violations. This hearing is separate from the criminal case. Drivers rarely win these hearings unless the officer does not show.

The holidays are approaching. Be safe on the road. It’s up to us to protect ourselves. Remember, anyone can be accused of DUI. Knowing this information will guide a person through the ordeal. If you are accused of DUI, take immediate action.